Joy Welan

My heart aches for your loss, and for this country's loss. Thank you for sharing the extraordinary man you lost with all of us who admired and were inspired by him.

Senator Kennedy's work has transformed my life. I was a seven-year-old little girl who used a wheelchair when the Americans with Disabilities Act was passed. Because of his work on this law and so many others, I was able to become a productive member of society. I will never forget the day that the senator came to George Washington University to support my friends who had been arrested while supporting fairer working conditions for dining service workers. I wish I had gotten a chance to tell him then how much he had inspired me. Senator Kennedy's passion for social justice showed me that law can be a force for social change. I am now a practicing attorney getting ready to begin a new job at the Department of Justice, where I will work to enforce the ADA and the other civil rights laws Senator Kennedy championed.

It was my privilege to wait in the heat for three hours outside the Senate to greet your motorcade and pay my respects to the senator. I hope the presence of so many citizens who respect and admire him was some comfort on what must have been the most difficult of days.

Please know that Senator Kennedy's work lives on, and that his legacy will not be forgotten by members of my generation who are still willing and ready to fight for civil rights, justice, and equality.